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Creative Loafing, which owns the Chicago Reader and five other alternative weeklies, has fired Ken Edelstein, the editor of Creative Loafing Atlanta, from the job he'd held the past eight years. His dismissal came today, almost a week after a rancorous meeting with Ben Eason, the president of Creative Loafing Inc., Luann Labedz his Atlanta publisher, and other execs. Edelstein's staff walked out behind him, but he spoke briefly to them on a loading dock and told them to go back to work.
Creative Loafing filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy two months ago. Eason hopes he can reorganize, get out from under $40 million in debt run up when he bought the Reader and Washington's City Paper last year, and hang on to the company, which his parents founded.
The meeting last Tuesday had been about how to distribute budget cuts, with Edelstein favoring smaller cuts to editorial and advertising and deeper administrative cuts. "We had a pretty strong philosophical difference," says Edelstein. Eason released a statement that said, in part, "Ken and I go back a long ways and he’s a very talented person and we’ll miss him. The decision to let him go was related to a personal matter that is best left private for all parties concerned. You can rest assured that CL doesn’t operate in a capricious manner."
John Sugg, a former editor under Edelstein, disagrees, saying the staff used to joke that "the corporate policy was 'ready, fire, aim.'"